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1 2--MARKET FAILURE October 17, 2014. 2 An Idea from Last Time Prices summarize info and make surplus-maximizing trades take place.

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Presentation on theme: "1 2--MARKET FAILURE October 17, 2014. 2 An Idea from Last Time Prices summarize info and make surplus-maximizing trades take place."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 2--MARKET FAILURE October 17, 2014

2 2 An Idea from Last Time Prices summarize info and make surplus-maximizing trades take place.

3 Packet Supply 3

4 When Do Markets Fail to Maximize Surplus? 1.Poor property rights 2.Poor contract enforcement 3.Monopoly 4.Asymmetric information 5.Externalities 4

5 Property in Land The holder of a land title that says he owns it “in fee simple” can use the land for his entire life, leave it to heirs, or sell it in fee simple to someone else, without having to worry about what kinds of rights he has over the land. Rather than checking the fine print on the property deed, he can rest assured that he has bought the conventional package of rights. 5

6 Creation Particularly important is that property rules award ownership to someone who creates something new. The usual rule is that Jones has the right to keep most but not all of what he produces, giving up some of it to the government as taxes. The property rule for another class of goods is that the producer owns them, but only temporarily. This class is intellectual property: patent and copyright. A patent gives the inventor of an idea ownership for 20 years, but after that anybody can use it for free. Copyright gives the writer of a book exclusive rights for his lifetime plus 70 years. 6

7 Common Property Still other goods are common property. This is different from government property. In Covina, California, Mark Shoff kept five unregistered cars in his driveway plus 43 others in the surrounding streets. 7

8 Contracts Property rights need to be established before buying and selling take place, but the trading process also needs laws. Suppose Jones would like for Smith to pay today for a bottle of whisky that Jones will deliver tomorrow. Without a law against breach of contract, Smith will be reluctant to hand over the money, since Jones could just keep it and not deliver. A law must say what happens if Jones violates his promise. The law could be that Jones must refund the money, or that he must deliver the bottle or be jailed, or that he must pay Smith enough to make Smith as happy as delivery would have. Which of these rules maximizes surplus is not clear, but any of them is better than no rule at all. 8

9 Clarity What matters most for surplus maximization is that there be clear rules about who owns what, and that there be high enough penalties for broken promises Getting the exact rules right is less important, because people can adapt to imperfect rules. But if nobody is quite sure what the rules are, or who has the power to get what he wants, total surplus falls. Thus, “The Rule of Law”, not “The Rule of Man”, is helpful to surplus maximization. 9

10 Private Police and Militia Private organizations could replace government in defining and protecting property and contract rights. People could sign up with one of various competing “protective or- ganizations” and pay the organization a yearly fee, a fee similar to taxes but a price rather than a tax. (David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom) 10

11 The World Bank: Doing Bus.Doing Bus 11 ranks-behind-rwanda-belarus- azerbaijan-in-ease-of-creating-new- business-world-bank- says/article/

12 Monopoly and Market Power A monopoly can capture more producer surplus, but at the expense of diminishing total surplus. Monopoly welfare losses arise from these inefficient attempts to capture surplus. The loss may arise either from the attempt to become a monopoly or from the attempt to exploit the monopoly or from the allocative inefficiency of monopoly--- the triangle loss. A firm has market power whenever the demand curve facing that firm individually is downward sloping instead of flat. If a firm with market power raises its price, it loses some but not all of its customers. 12

13 Monopoly Allocative Inefficiency 13

14 Market Power In a perfectly competitive market of very small firms selling an identical product, firms do not have market power. Any firm that raises its price will lose 100% of its sales— the demand facing it is perfectly elastic, perfectly price-sensitive. This is true even though the market demand curve slopes down and is not perfectly elastic. The reason is that the market demand curve shows what happens to quantity demanded when the market price rises, which happens when all sellers raise their price simultaneously. The demand curve facing one firm shows what happens to the quantity demanded from that one firm if only that firm raises its price. 14

15 Monopoly profits are a little like the profits from theft The process of creating a monopoly requires effort that transfers surplus from one person to another without creating new surplus. “The Welfare Costs of Tariffs, Monopolies, and Theft” (Gordon Tullock) Whether by merging existing firms in an industry, lobbying for a law that knocks out one’s competitors, or illegal violence to scare off other firms, the creator has to spend time and effort to get his monopoly. 15

16 The transactions cost of extracting consumer surplus How do you get the most possible out of the consumer? If Jones has a monopoly on selling whisky to Jones, and Jones has a monopoly on buying whisky, then they have to bargain over the price, creating wasteful transaction costs. Even when bargaining isn’t one on one, companies spend a lot of time on clever pricing schemes to extract consumer surplus. 16

17 Production Costs A third problem with monopoly: production costs may rise. Monopolies like profits, but can they earn them as well? Shareholders of a competitive firm can compare its president’s performance to the presidents’ at other firms. A monopoly can’t. The most important kinds of regulation justified by monopoly are public utility regulation and anti- trust law. 17

18 Asymmetric Information Not all poor information is a source of market failure. We don’t say it’s market failure if we can’t predict the future, or don’t know all the inventions that will be around in Those are innate limitations on our production. Asymmetric information is the real problem. What if only Jones knows the quality of his whisky? (1)if Smith buys colored water, his value is not $15, but $0. (2)eventually Jones will not buy at all. 18

19 The Principal-Agent Problem At its most basic: the boss-worker problem. Moral Hazard: The agent has low effort Adverse Selection: The agent has low ability More generally: Buyers do not know exactly the quality of the services they buy. It is too hard to monitor, or to write into a contract. Examples: mechanics, lawyers, doctors, accountants. 19

20 Poor information about the markets themselves Suppose a market has one hundred competing sellers but some consumers only know about one of them. Those consumers effectively face a monopoly. When consumers need to search for prices and learn about different sellers, they may end up buying from the wrong seller or buying the wrong product. 20

21 Bad decision-making Does a consumer who buys a magical spell as a cure for cancer have poor information, or is he just foolish? Either way, his beliefs about the product are wrong and he pays more than his true value, Either way, government regulation could help. Whether unethical businesses take advantage of poor information or poor reasoning, penalties on their bad behavior raises surplus and protects ethical businesses from what we can, I think, call unfair competition. If someone is ignorant, informing him fixes his problem; if he is stupid, one may have to make the decision for him. 21

22 If consumers have good information, then their maximum willingness to pay is also their true value of the product. Their demand curve - their maximum willingness to pay - is the same as their value curve - the value they receive from the product once they consume it, given their personal tastes and the other things they are consuming. Value Curves 22

23 Externalities (Spillovers) Suppose Smith, after buying whisky from Jones for $10 and drinking it, will throw the bottle onto the sidewalk in front of Brown’s house, where it will shatter and cost Brown $20 to clean up. The transaction between Smith and Jones has still created surplus of $7 as far as those two are concerned— Smith’s value is $15 so he gets $5 surplus, and Jones’s is $8 so he gets $2 surplus. The problem is Brown, the third party. External to the transaction, he suffers a value loss of $20. The negative externality of $20 more than wipes out the gains from trade of $7. Just because there is a harmful externality to other people, however, does not mean that a trade is inefficient. 23

24 Externalities 24

25 A Pollution Tax 25

26 Externalities can be looked at as weak property rights In the whisky example, Smith shatters the bottle on Brown’s sidewalk. A solution would be for the government to make it clear that although Smith does have the right to walk on Brown’s sidewalk, he does not have the right to shatter glass there. The government would also have to enforce the right by making Smith fear the police too much to break the bottle or forcing him to pay compensation. If the people downstream of the paper mills owned the river or the right to clean water, they could make the paper mills pay for the privilege of polluting the water. 26

27 Positive Externalities Positive externalities are spillovers that benefit third parties. Smith and Jones are neighbors. Smith is deciding whether to pay $500 to plant a tree in his yard. If Smith plants the tree, Jones receives a benefit of $200— that is, he would be willing to pay up to $200 to have the tree next door. That $200 is a positive externality. Positive externalities create surplus. We would not make the world a better place by somehow eliminating Jones’s enjoyment of Smith’s tree. But the market does not generate enough of them. 27

28 The Cathedral of Junk 28

29 The Cathedral of Junk 29

30 Private Benefits Example: Smith could plant a tree that his neighbor Jones would like too. If Smith would pay up to $450 to have the tree, we say that his private benefit is $450. Suppose Jones’s private benefit is $200. The social benefit is the private benefit plus any positive externalities, which sums to $650 here. The private benefit of $450 is less than the $500 cost, so Smith will not plant the tree, but the social benefit of $650 is greater than $500, so surplus maximization says the tree should be planted. Smith fails to plant the tree because he makes his decision in isolation, ignoring benefits external to himself. If he and Jones were to talk and make a deal, Jones would be willing to pay him an amount - say, $150 - that would make Smith plant the tree. Why not make the deal, then? 30

31 Public Goods Smith’s tree is a non-excludable good because Smith cannot exclude Jones from enjoying it. It is a non-rivalrous good because when Jones enjoys it that does not impose any extra costs on Smith. A good that is both non-excludable and non-rivalrous is called a public good. 31

32 Real versus Pecuniary Externalities The shattered whisky bottle, the water pollution, and the tree in the yard create real externalities: spillovers such that someone’s action affects the utility of someone else directly rather than through prices. If the spillover results from prices changing, it is called a pecuniary externality. 32

33 Keeble v. Hickeringill "This is like the case of 11 Henry IV, p. 47: one schoolmaster sets up a new school to the damage of an ancient school, and thereby the scholars are allured from the old school to come to his new; the action there was held not to lie. But suppose Mr. Hickeringill should lie in the way with his guns, and frighten the boys from going to school and their parents would not let them go thither, sure that schoolmaster might have an action for the loss of his scholars. 29 Edward III, p. 14. A man hath a market, to which he hath toll for horses sold; a man is bringing his horse to market to sell; a stranger hinders and obstructs him from going thither to the market; an action lies because it imports damage." 33

34 Coordination and Network Externalities Pessimistic expectations generate runs on banks. In one equilibrium, nobody expects a bank run, so withdrawals stay at a normal level and the bank is able to fund them. In a second equilibrium, everybody expects a bank run, so a run does happen and the bank cannot pay everyone. Expectations also matter when there are network externalities: a consumer gets more benefit from a good if more other people are using the same kind of good. (CELLPHONES) 34

35 Aren’t externalities pervasive? “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” --John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII (1654) 35

36 Back to Socialism? 1. Market solutions. Market power is limited by entry of competitors. Poor information is limited by advertising. Externalities are limited by voluntary agreements to limit harmful behavior. 2. The government might do even worse. Government Failure– chapter 3. 36

37 Madison on Property This term in its particular application means "that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual." In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage. In the former sense, a man's land, or merchandize, or money is called his property. In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them. He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them. He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person. He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them. In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. 37

38 The Merchant of Venice ANTONIO: The duke cannot deny the course of law: For the commodity that strangers have With us in Venice, if it be denied, Will much impeach the justice of his state; Since that the trade and profit of the city Consisteth of all nations. … 38

39 The Merchant of Venice SHYLOCK: I have possess'd your grace of what I purpose; And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn To have the due and forfeit of my bond: If you deny it, let the danger light Upon your charter and your city's freedom. You'll ask me, why I rather choose to have A weight of carrion flesh than to receive Three thousand ducats: I'll not answer that: But, say, it is my humour: is it answer'd? What if my house be troubled with a rat And I be pleased to give ten thousand ducats To have it baned? What, are you answer'd yet? Some men there are love not a gaping pig; Some, that are mad if they behold a cat; And others, when the bagpipe sings i' the nose, Cannot contain their urine: for affection, Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood Of what it likes or loathes. 39 Now, for your answer: As there is no firm reason to be render'd, Why he cannot abide a gaping pig; Why he, a harmless necessary cat; Why he, a woollen bagpipe; but of force Must yield to such inevitable shame As to offend, himself being offended; So can I give no reason, nor I will not, More than a lodged hate and a certain loathing I bear Antonio, that I follow thus A losing suit against him. Are you answer'd? BASSANIO This is no answer, thou unfeeling man, To excuse the current of thy cruelty. SHYLOCK I am not bound to please thee with my answers.

40 40 An Idea from Last Time For surplus maximization, clear and enforced property ownership and contract law are important, including ownership of intangible “property”.


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